June 22, 2012
RJ, affectionately called “Trees” by family and friends, was born in San Francisco, Calif. to John and Betsy Twelvetrees. The youngest of three, Trees grew up in Palo Alto with his sister Barby and brother John. He was a graduate of “Paly” High where he played football, basketball, track and baseball. It was during these years that his passion for alpine skiing blossomed. His mom would drive her clan to such ski areas as Dodge Ridge, Squaw and Heavenly Valley where she’d sit in the lodge while they explored the snow-covered slopes. His illustrious seven-year college career included the University of Oregon, Foothill College and San Jose State receiving his BS in Recreational Physiology. He played collegiate football, water polo and tossed the javelin.Trees moved to Aspen in 1969, first working for Gretel Uhl on Aspen Mountain. Two years later he was hired by Curt Chase into the Snowmass Ski School and thus began his 41-year career as a “ski teacher” with the Aspen Ski Co. His keen intellect, colorful sense of humor, California attitudes and passion for teaching quickly became his trademarks.In 1981, Trees met Jenny Lang and after a short, nine-year courtship, they married in June 1990. Together they raised Katie and Michael, a family immersed in skiing and ski racing. They spent their 22-year marriage living winters in Aspen and summer months in Maui where Trees became “nearly” as passionate about windsurfing as he was about skiing! The deep blue water off Kanaha Beach was his favorite sailing spot. On their small Kula, Lilinoe Farm, he raised coffee and harvested his famous “cannonball” avocados (which he never once ate!). At the beach, he became known as the “Avocado” man. Working for Maui Sails and Neil Pryde since the summer of 1990, he delighted in learning the technical aspects of sailing equipment and schmoozing the customers. Through it all, he was the consummate gym rat.Trees is survived by his wife Jenny; daughter Katie Monahan; son Michael Monahan and two grandsons, Fynn and Yossi Monahan; his sister Barby Clarke of Honolulu and brother John Twelvetrees of Wasilla, Alaska. He will be immeasurably missed by his family and a lifetime of friends and students. He lived life on his own terms with humor, honor, love, humility and passion. He was an original man, loyal friend, inquisitive and kind. His life embodied “aloha.”Contributions in Trees’ name may be made to the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club Scholarship Fund in memory of RJ Twelvetrees, 300 AVSC Drive, Aspen, CO 81611. On June 30, 2012, there will be a gathering of his family and friends to celebrate and “talk story” at Sam’s Knob at Snowmass, 4-6 pm. All are welcome. Details to follow.